Liverpool supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their side reach the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Jurgen Klopp’s men went into their encounter with Italian outfit Napoli sat third in Group C and needing a victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s team at Anfield to stand any chance of qualifying for the last-16 of the competition. And they got the all-important three points as a Mohamed Salah effort in the first half was enough to secure a 1-0 success for the Reds, thus earning them second place in the group and indeed a spot in Monday’s knockout stage draw.
Thus, there have been many delighted Liverpudlians up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from the BBC’s Chief Football writer Phil McNulty, who has highlighted the sale of Philippe Coutinho, and the subsequent ‘shrewd re-investment’ following his departure, as vital in helping Klopp transform this Liverpool team into one that can challenge for major honours.
And given the likes of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk were lured to Anfield as part of Coutinho’s exit back in January, McNulty is spot on to suggest that the Reds have ‘now made themselves a better, more complete team’ following his departure.
Ultimately, it always looked likely that the Brazil international would make the move to Barcelona at some point given the level of interest in the 26-year-old, with Liverpool eventually agreeing to his sale earlier this year for £117 million (as per Transfermarkt).
And McNulty is right to suggest that Coutinho was indeed the club’s ‘best player’ when he was sold to the Spanish giants, as exemplified by his tally of 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions for the Reds in the first half of last season – they were losing an absolute gem.
Yet there haven’t been too many occasions in which they have noticeably missed the Brazilian star in the last 12 months or so, such has been the sterling form of the likes of Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino, and instead of seeking to replace the 26-year-old like-for-like, Klopp has sought to improve other areas of the squad in need of improvements.
Yes, losing a player of Coutinho’s calibre would be big for any side in world football, but there were more pressing matters in other areas of the squad for Klopp to try and strengthen, most notably the defensive ranks and the goalkeeping department.
And that is why McNulty is right to suggest that the Reds are a ‘more complete team’ following Coutinho’s departure, as it enabled Klopp to lure messrs van Dijk and Alisson to Anfield to bolster those vulnerable areas of the squad – areas that were consistently letting Liverpool down last season, and in the years previous.
Only time will tell just how much Liverpool will miss Coutinho in the long-term, but right now, the money they got from him and the ‘shrewd re-investment’ in van Dijk and Alisson has transformed Klopp’s team into one that could enjoy much success in 2019.
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